Maybe your old central air conditioner has quit working, and you think you need a central air conditioner replacement. Maybe you want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient or environmentally-friendly system. Maybe you’re not sure what to do.
Proper sizing is very important for efficient air conditioning. A bigger unit is not necessarily better because a unit that is too large will not cool an area uniformly. A small unit running for an extended period operates more efficiently and is more effective at dehumidifying than a large unit that cycles on and off too frequently.
Based on size alone, an air conditioner generally needs 20 British thermal units (Btu) for each square foot of living space. Other important factors to consider when selecting an air conditioner are room height, local climate, shading, and window size. Also look for a filter that slides out easily for regular cleaning, logically arranged controls, a digital readout for the thermostat setting, a built-in timer, and an Energy Star-rating for efficiency. Replacing an older unit with an EER rating of 5 with one with an EER of 10 can cut your energy costs in half, according to the Department of Energy.
The Age of Your System
- The age of your system
The average lifespan of an air conditioning system is 10-15 years. If your unit is close to ten years old or older, you may want to consider replacing it instead of repairing it. Heating and cooling costs account for roughly 44% of your utility costs. If you’re paying more than the average for your area, your air conditioning system may not be working effectively.
Older air conditioning systems also use R22, which is being phased out over the next few years out to meet environmental protection regulations. Replacing this refrigerant in older air conditioning systems to one that complies with these regulations is expensive and since R22 is being discontinued, it's becoming more difficult to source. New air conditioning systems are all manufactured to comply with these regulations and are designed to be much more energy-efficient. Using the correct refrigerant, they are also far more eco-friendly because they release fewer carbon emissions. By installing a new air conditioning system, you will also notice a significant improvement in your home’s indoor air quality. A newer air conditioning system will also increase the resale value of your home.
- Excessive noise and dust
The constant presence of dust in your home – even after cleaning, is a good indication that there are leaks in the ductwork. Those leaks will compromise the efficiency of your air conditioning system, and that will increase the operating cost. If your air conditioner is excessively noisy, there is a good possibility that your duct system isn’t large enough for the square footage of your home. It’s also possible that you have a problem with the unit’s indoor coil.
- Your air conditioning-related expenses are increasing
If your utility bills are going up and there isn’t any change in the way you’re using it, that’s a good indication that your system is no longer as efficient as it should be. Another obvious sign is the amount of money you are paying for air conditioning repairs, and the frequency with which you have to have the system repaired.
- Cooling and humidity inconsistencies
Your home’s air conditioner is supposed to remove humidity from the air because excessive humidity makes the space more uncomfortable. When it functions, the system will maintain consistent temperatures throughout the house. When the cooling portion of your HVAC system isn’t able to do these things, either your equipment is malfunctioning, or there are issues with your ductwork. Think about the cost of repairing these problems, and ask yourself if it is worth your while to spend the money on repairs.
These warning signs may be an indication that you should think about replacing your air conditioning system. It’s natural to be concerned about the cost of replacing part of your HVAC unit. It’s an expensive purchase, and a huge investment in your home. Don’t panic at the prospect of having to come up with a lot of money upfront. A new air conditioning unit may wind up eliminating the constant repair costs, and lower your utility bills enough to help you recoup part of your investment. A newer, more energy-efficient air conditioning system will also increase the resale value of your home.